Leaks and fear of leaks. Here are some helpful links and a story.
Not all icicles are going to cause problems. You need to knock them down or melt them if:
• They are big enough to pull your gutters down
• Their nasty spike is aiming at a place where people walk.
• There is water entering your house near them.
Flat roofs are a must-shovel. If you cannot get onto your own roof, hire someone. (Link from MEMA.)
Melt: How to melt them has been covered in an earlier post. In the two- and three-family houses that are common around eastern Massachusetts, ice melt can be pitched from an upper window onto an ice pile. It is literally hit and miss. (See pre-melt preparation below!)
Attack! For me and my house, I prefer the Attack method. We had huge icicles at the corners, two of which hung precariously over the walkways. They looked like this:
The solution: Use a baseball bat or a ski pole (depending on distance and the thickness of the icicle.) Open the window and whack away. Warning: have someone standing close behind you to make sure the momentum doesn’t carry you out the window.
If the downspout is nearby, hit that, too; you will hear a satisfying tinkle and see bits of ice come out the bottom. Then go downstairs and whack the downspouts everywhere you can get to around the house. (I haven’t seen this advice anywhere else, so I am claiming credit for it.)
Alternate solutions I have heard of: Throwing snowballs at them. Throwing tennis balls at them.
Get ready for the melt. Water, water, everywhere!
If water is coming in a little bit now, it will be coming in a lot when the ice melts more rapidly. Be ready with some preventive measures inside. This includes preparing for a leak before you ice melt on purpose.
If you are seeing drips, poke a hole in the surface there. Water goes to the easiest path downward. So, if you have one spot where the water is flowing, it is easier to control it.
If you can channel the water into a bucket or tube, you save yourself a lot of clean-up.
If there is room for buckets beneath the leak, use one.
Purchase water absorbing material before applying ice melt or before the temperature goes back up. There are long tubular things, like this or this. Most are made of the stuff in diapers. So, in a pinch… (I am not endorsing any brands here, since I can’t really tell the difference. Ask someone at the hardware store.)
Now the story:
Friday, my husband spotted me while I baseball-batted the big nasty corner icicles at our house. Mission accomplished. I had a feeling of mastery!
Saturday, I saw a Facebook post about water collecting in the window wells at a clients’ house. I offered to investigate. They had the typical problem. And one that was not indicative of a hefty repair.
They had water getting behind the gutter. Bad news.
The better-than-average news was that the house has exposed rafters and not closed soffets (see picture below.) The water was running behind the gutter, then along the roof rafter. The end of the roof rafter met the top of their dining room window frame. The water then found some small gaps to come through into the window wells.
(Attached is a picture of a different house. On the left are the kind of rafters my clients’ house has. I would not take pictures of their house while hanging out the window. I love you all, but not that much!)
I knocked down their icicles, cleared their downspout and showed them what was happening. They are lucky that the third floor condo has a window above where their ice dam is. So, they will be able to throw a few sock-loads of ice melt onto that corner and get the melting done in one, controlled, fell swoop.
One of my clients was going to watch the baby and the other promised to get some water absorber and ice melt to use after the blizzard passes through. Mission accomplished.
This is what I get to do when there is nothing to show.